The Sunday Times newspaper has reported that at least 18 consortia are working on bids for four onshore oil fields in the Niger Delta being sold by Shell Petroleum Development and Production Company (SPDC) and its partners Total and Eni.

The newspaper said Nat Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty, was backing one group of bidders, while Russian gas group Gazprom was leading a bid with Nigerian resources firm Equinox Group.

London-listed oil industry services group Petrofac has joined forces with Nigerian gas firm Seven Energy to bid for one of the blocks being sold, while London-listed oil group Afren also plans to make an offer, it added. Another bidding group includes London-based oil firm Perenco, Nigeria’s Oando and Addax & Oryx, which is controlled by billionaire Jean Claude Gandur, the paper said. Sweden’s Lundin family is also interested, and working with logistics firm Intels Nigeria, it said.

Shell has said it hopes local companies would bid and analysts think there could be a preference for local players.

Shell is planning to sell four onshore fields along with its partners Total and Eni. The onshore blocks, according to sources familiar with the deal, include Oil Mining Leases (OMLs 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42). Also to be sold with the oil blocks are the facilities located in that region where the industry has faced repeated militant attacks. The leases, some of which contain reserves of up to 2 billion barrels, are valued at between $150 million and $2 billion.

Shell’s partners would have to approve any disposal of assets. SPDC is the operator of the joint venture in Nigeria between state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) (55 percent), Shell (30 percent), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10 percent), and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (5 percent).

(Source: Newswires)